For M and A KE Thank you

What a city. What a weekend.

I had never been to Amsterdam before. Look out for the windmills. Look at the tulips. Anne Frank. Van Gogh. Vermeer. Rembrandt.

No tickets!

Well, it was wonderful. But nothing like that at all.

We arrived Thursday afternoon and went by taxi from the airport to the hotel. Lots of canals and pretty buildings. One windmill. Just a glimpse though- it may have been real, or it may have been an advertising stunt. That was it as far as windmills went. Luckily Amsterdam is full of quirky little shops and I managed to find this sweet little toy in one of them.

Tulips. No tulips in March. Lots of bulbs beautifully displayed in the flower market. Lots of plastic ones in shop windows. A few gorgeous real ones in the entrance to our hotel.

So far so good. Anne Frank. I did not want to visit her house. Many years of reading and teaching her diary, watching the excellent BBC five part film and generally promoting her life and experience did not induce me to actually visiting her last place of residence. Even though it was literally round the corner from where we were staying. But I did see the little statue of her. Very unassuming. She was born the same year as my mum. Made me think.

We couldn’t get tickets for the Vermeer. We even asked at the hotel if they could get us in by the back door. But they couldn’t. However we did go to the MOCO museum which had an extraordinary selection of art including Banksy and Yayoi Kusama. It was fascinating despite the building being too small and the rooms too cramped to do justice to any of the works.

But that was it as far as our cultural experience went.

We’d been invited to go for the weekend by our daughter and son in law who pulled out all the stops to make my husband’s special birthday a very memorable one.

The first night we were there ( we came a day early) we went to a local fish restaurant. It turned out that this was the same place we were going to the next day for lunch. No matter. The turbot was delicious. The usp of the restaurant was that you chose your fish in the “market” before you sat down. Then you were given a bucket with your wine bottle to take to the table.

That was PESCA. Saturday evening we went to another superb place full of very theatrical and unusually flavourful food – RONGASTROBAR. Lots of sharing dishes which were absolutely delicious. And very different.

All good fun and extremely well organised. Your table number was scribbled on a tin of sardines. We were warned not to eat them before our number was called.

Saturday lunch we went to a greenhouse. DE KAS. Our daughter had persuaded them to let us have a table as it was her father’s birthday. When he arrived he was presented with a little pot of honey from their beehives. The pot was luckily small enough to go in my toiletries bag on the plane. The honey is delicious. It was a lovely surprise. They were so welcoming. And the food again was delicious. No choice – but who needs one when everything is so fresh and good.

That afternoon my husband had a nap. I went for a little walk with the children. We went back to the hotel for dinner. Couldn’t be improved upon. JANSZ. I had mushrooms -eringi- king trumpet mushrooms prepared to look like tagliatelle with ceps and truffles.

You may think that all we did was eat. You are right.

Before Saturday night dinner we were going to go to Mass. We found the church (it was actually interlocking with our hotel buildings ) and checked the times. 19:00 hours. We were there at ten to. People were leaving but some were in the pews. The candles were lit, the lights were on, so we could see both the Syrian Orthodox and the Roman Catholic influences. (They share). Very pretty. We waited quietly for Mass to start. We were a bit bemused by the sacristan blowing out the candles. What was going on? Perhaps they light them freshly for each service? But then he began to switch off the electric light. Hmm. People began to head for the exit. We eventually did too. We looked at the carved notice board outside the church. 7pm on a Saturday.

Then the sacristan caught up with us we pointed out that we thought that mass was at seven. He said the website said six. And the posters. None of which we’d taken into account. Oh dear. He said to change the carved stone notice bard would be too difficult. But when we looked the next day he had managed it. The next visitors will be on time!

On Sunday we had another little walk round the local streets and canals and then it was time for another superb lunch. This time Italian. The waitress was Polish of course. Studying in Amsterdam! The food was delicious. Of course. I wanted to start with pudding -a concoction of chestnutty things, but I was persuaded to wait till the end. It was worth it though I was a bit full!

As you can see this post is a paean to Dutch gastronomy. Everything was amazing. So many ideas. I wish I were a better cook.

So, thank you to Marysia and Alex for introducing us to this incredible city.

I want to go back – perhaps when it’s a tad warmer. There is still so much to do and see.


5 comments on “Amsterdam

  1. A lovely account! Thank you for getting them to put up the right time for Mass – you will be blessed in heaven or in the next life, whichever it be.

    My next visit to Amsterdam – whenever I can be spared from my duties – will be for other purposes than eating. No, not that 😉 but research into Dutch culture, specifically cabaret and TV. Amsterdam saw in the 1960s (as you perhaps know) a boom in the popularity of cabaret that exceeded even that in London, and I hope to discover some records of it. Unfortunately a great deal of Dutch TV from that time was not preserved, not because it was not good but because the TV companies were cheeseparing about the cost of videotape. I **hope** to unearth evidence that will allow me to document at least a little of the missing material on imdB – I am a regular contributor to that website. With me, life is never anything less than full-on 😉

    Best wishes to you and the family!

    Liked by 1 person

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